Episcopal Doublethink and An Irony of History
Fitzsimmons had his way. The tabernacle has been relegated to its
squalid brick pedestal. His mercenaries had earned their pay. Thus were
the people of Christ the King parish induced to accept the new "godly
order" devised by Bishop Sullivan, and set forth with the approval of
his diocesan commissions. Then, having destroyed the ethos and harmony
of a flourishing parish, a diocesan spokesman issued a statement which,
I am convinced, can not be rivaled within the pages of Nineteen
Eighty-Four as an example of "doublethink":
the story does not end quite here with total victory for Bishop
Sullivan. He was not able to sit down with Bishop Fitzsimmons for a
refreshing cocktail, after exchanging warm handshakes and mutually
congratulatory smiles. No, Bishop Sullivan was not able to say: "Well,
we've done it at last! There's not a tabernacle on a high altar in the
entire diocese!" Bishop Sullivan was denied that satisfaction, and the
story ends with a victory for Christ the King.
few days later another bishop re-dedicated a church in Kansas City, and
on the center of the magnificent high altar of that church there
reposes a splendid tabernacle. The church in question is the
cathedral-like structure of St. Vincent de Paul, among the most
beautiful Catholic churches in America. It had been purchased by the
Society of St. Pius X, and on Sunday, May 10th, Archbishop Lefebvre had
re-dedicated it before a standing-room only congregation. This
congregation included hundreds of people from Christ the King parish.
Many of them now worship there each Sunday, and more have joined them
since. The bitterest blow for Bishop Sullivan was the fact that the
church had been purchased from him. He had not sold it to the Society;
he had vowed that "those people" would never get it, but he quite
happily sold it to a Protestant sect for a nominal sum -and this sect
sold it to the Society. Thus, traditional Catholics of Kansas City who
wish to worship in a church where the tabernacle still occupies a place
of honor can still do so despite Bishop Sullivan and thanks to
Archbishop Lefebvre. And which of these bishops, I wonder, is a "rebel"
in the eyes of God? One is hell-bent on overthrowing the traditions
established over two thousand years in the Church's history, the other
dedicated to upholding or restoring them. The one professes loyalty to
the Pope, but allows those who insult the Pope and repudiate Catholic
teaching to preach in his diocese. The other upholds all the defined
teaching of the Church on faith and morals, and whose loyalty to the
Pope is such that he is willing to expel from his Society any priest
who refuses to pray for the Holy Father.
There are in the Church at present two irreconcilable viewpoints locked in conflict: one of them must eventually prevail. There are those best described by the name "Conciliar Church", aptly symbolized by their vandalism in the sanctuary at Christ the King. There are those best described as "Traditionalists", aptly symbolized by the dignified sanctuary at St. Vincent's. It seems, at the moment, that the latter are an insignificant minority with no hope of prevailing-----but this appeared to be the case during the Arian crisis. There seemed no possibility that the beliefs upheld by the hunted, despised, and excommunicated Athanasius could ever prevail against the universally triumphant Arianism. But the weak Pope Liberius died; under his successors the true faith was restored, and Athanasius was vindicated. History has a way of repeating itself-----it is doing so already at the Church of St. Vincent de Paul, Kansas City!
examining legislation concerning the siting of the tabernacle which has
appeared since the Second Vatican Council, it will be useful to examine
the subject within the context of Tradition. Furthermore, the question
of the sitting of the tabernacle cannot be considered in isolation from
that of Mass facing the people. It is often argued that as Mass must now be celebrated facing the
people, the tabernacle must
be removed from the altar. The necessity for a celebration facing the
people, versus populum, will
be considered first. This subject, and that of the tabernacle, are
dealt with in considerable detail in my book Pope Paul's New Mass. Full
documentation is provided there for every claim made in this pamphlet.
I will do no more here than state the facts as simply as possible, and
refer those wanting more detail to my book.